Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Buying and Selling eContent: Licenses to Dance in More Ways than Ever

A panel discussing the evolving models for licensing and rights management for publishers highlighted the expanding variety of approaches to monetizing content that are blending the experiences of consumer ecommerce with institutional sales. Corilee Christou, VP of Licensing for Reed Business Information, noted that "bigger isn't always better" in her world of controlled circulatoin publications, where major outlets such as Variety play alongside lucrative but niche-oriented trade titles. For all of these a wide variety of old and new revenue models abound: syndication feeds, royalites from host usage, percentages on transactions triggered by ad click-throughs, as well as new subscription-based sites and pricing content by the article and by site fees. Even in this fairly stable universe of business content, though, Corilee is aware of the growing influence of search engines superceding Web sites as destinations. Scott Kinney, EVP for Licensing for CBS MarketWatch, has seen MarketWatch evolved from a destination "dot com" site to a company that targets many professional investors via direct feeds and feeds via distribution partners such as Thomson FInancial, which is tripling MarketWatch's editorial output for its own use. Feed and other non-ad forms of licensing have allowed MarketWatch to lower ads to a third of its overall revenues, providing a strong profile for future growth in both institutional and consumer markets. Ken Kirkley, Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing at ProQuest, takes the approach of doing distribution deals with just about anyone - "ProQuest is Switzerland," Corilee offered - but still hesitates on search engine distribution via Google and others without a strong buy-in from their huge stable of news and professional content suppliers. This problem of buy-in is likely to be a rubbing point for many aggregators, who are likely to see individual companies ready to make the search engine leap on their own peeling off the value of aggregators' base of titles bit by bit - cannibalization from within, if you will. Craig McKinnis, Strategic Content Partnership Manager for UPI, has "nothing to cannibalize" when it comes to approaching the marketplace with their own licensed news feeds, but is trying to rein in resdistributors that fail to keep UPI abreast of how their content is being used. As UPI starts to take on third party content using their facilities for redistribution and fine-tune their management of third parties, this situation is likely to improve.

Original content producers who are largely still in control of their own distribution have a lot to gain from new distribution and licensing models as the search engine era moves forward. There's clearly still a role for infomediaries in this new landscape, but licensing is going to have to accomodate original content producers' desire to be in touch with their end users far more effectively for these infomediaries to survive. See our upcoming report on The New Aggregation for more details.
Post a Comment